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Crosswalk Rant(8 posts)

Crosswalk Rantfiltersweep
Jul 3, 2002 7:44 PM
I take a commuter bike path to my usual roads (the path is actually three paths- two 8ft wide paths for bikes in each direction and a separate walking path... so they are not the usually MUTs). Anyway, they cross a busy 2-lane road where there is a 12ft wide CLEARLY marked crosswalk (huge wide zebra stripes).

Someone is going to get killed on this crosswalk. I generally have trouble here. When I arrived, I see three other bikers waiting at the crosswalk (so cars "should" already be stopped). I unclipped and nosed toward the road (I've found I'm dead in the water once my foot hits the ground). The car coming from my left (closest to me stops) and the car to the right slows down as if to stop, but doesn't, nearly hitting me, forcing me to veer into oncoming traffic that at this point has stopped, allowing me to finish crossing.

Every time something like this happens, I am so tempted to hurl my waterbottle into an open car window (not that I ever would, but some retaliatory violent fantasies somehow comfort me).

Contrast this to, lets just say... ANYWHERE IN EUROPE... where all traffic instantly comes to a quick halt for anything in a crosswalk... where bikes and pedestrians don't even need to "look both ways" before venturing onto the street, where no motorist is the least bit ruffled for waiting an octogenarian to amble across the street. Hey, we have the same laws here in the US... why is this such a difficult task for people to grasp???

I've also contemplated some guerilla signage... of covertly posting stopsigns at the crosswalk (again, a mere fantasy- like taking jackhammers to the speed bumps on my favorite river road). How long would the city take to figure out their bureaucratic machinations did not post the signs?
driver obedience at crosswalksweiwentg
Jul 3, 2002 10:48 PM
I've found (this is in Ann Arbor, a small university town) that drivers are well behaved at crosswalks. I'd always look both ways, but I usually don't find anyone charging through. where did this happen?
on the other hand, drivers never seem to slow for zebra crossings - they just plough through. pedestrians tend to wait for cars to go through - they look surprised when I slow down (on my bike) for them. back home, everyone stops if a pedestrian is about to cross.
Ann Arbor = abnormal (in a nice way)off roadie
Jul 5, 2002 6:43 AM
In general, Ann Arbor drivers are super polite to pedestrians. Parts of the town are much more oriented to foot travel than car traffic.

However, Ann Arbor is the one and only place I ever had a bike "killed" by a car. Cheap bike- I was 14 at time. I was already crossing in front of a Jeep Cherokee when he started pulling across the sidewalk, out of a parking lot into the street. The guy looked right at me (or so I thought) with his wife sitting next to him and 2.5 kids in the back. He just kept going, toally sucking my frame under his front wheel and dragging the bike 8 feet, only stopping when he reached the street and traffic wasn't clear. I was very lucky not to be under there with the bike.

Not really my fault, buit it taught me a lesson about riding on the sidewalk, especially in areas with commercial parking lots. It also taught me not to expect a driver to do the right thing after an accident- he didn't offer me a ride home, nobody called the cops, my bike was simply useless and I was SOL.

So, Ann arbor is nice, but that only goes so far. And its not universal- the city is SO liberal, there's definate pockets of backlash.
re: Crosswalk RantMJ
Jul 4, 2002 1:33 AM
it's not quite that good in Euro-land - but admittedly it is better than the states

I find the most dangerous thing here (in heavy urban Euro traffic) to be pedestrians who stroll out w/o looking for objects smaller than cars...
re: Crosswalk Rantrollo tommassi
Jul 4, 2002 8:46 AM
I don't know what the law is in your state, but I bet it is simply that drivers have no idea what a zebra crossing is and what their responsibility is at these intersections.
May I suggest you do this: come up with a plan to make drivers aware of their responsibilities...make contact with the local police, get them on your side, ask them what the incident rate is at these crossings (pedestrian and cyclist). Get a consensus from fellow 'users' at these crossings, get them on your side too, especially if it's a place where families and children use the crossing. Possibly the pedestrians don't know that they have rights vis a vis zebra crossings, and don't they feel inconvenienced by these long waits at the crossing? Empowerment against the status quo can be your biggest ally here. Maybe the city will put up signs, or increase enforcement there?

I agree that things 'seem' to be better elsewhere, but it is not that people don't need to look both ways, but that all users of the roadway have respect for other users.

Channel your 'violent fantasies' into change for the greater good. Obviously there is a Do Gooder in your heart! because you are concerned about safety and respect on the road.

I look forward to hearing of success you may attain!
Jul 4, 2002 12:03 PM
Ironically PSAs were recently beefed up when the state (MN) imposed a maximum of $750 or $1000 fine for a crosswalk violation. Motorists were initially outraged, but keep in mind, this is a maximum... I doubt anyone has been fined anywhere close to that.

The problem with this area is that it is not in a commercial or residential neighborhood, so a "violator" has relatively "low exposure."
ANYWHERE IN EUROPE except. . .js5280
Jul 4, 2002 2:21 PM
Italy, especially Milan! I think they'd run their own mother over to get to next stoplight 2 seconds sooner. Actually I appreachiated the European driving style because they understand that you're actually trying to get somewhere and want to do so quickly. The bus drivers are amazing, traveling at speed down tiny and chaotically busy streets.

Now the Swedes definately stop, it took me some re-education after a few weeks in Italy. My Swedish friend kept laughing at me from the other side of the street.
Everywhere in Europe,TJeanloz
Jul 5, 2002 5:17 AM
I don't know where you all go in Europe, but my experience is that in most places, European drivers are MUCH worse with crosswalks than American drivers. I fear for my life everytime I set a foot down in a London crosswalk. Italy is an accident waiting to happen- drivers speed up when they see somebody moving for the crosswalk. Southern France, where I spend quite a bit of time, is a crosswalk disaster if you're on foot- but remarkably good by bicycle...